Gwadar land prices skyrocket due to Chinese investment
The windfall came after 12 years of waiting patiently for the Gwadar port to emerge as the centre piece of China’s ambitious plans for a trade and energy corridor stretching from the Persian Gulf, across Pakistan, into western Xinjiang.
Gwadar forms the southern Pakistan hub of a $57-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects Beijing announced in 2014.
Since then, land prices have skyrocketed as property demand has spiked, and dozens of real estate firms want to cash in.
Last year, government welcomed the first large shipment of Chinese goods at Gwadar, where the China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd took over operations in 2013. It plans to eventually handle 300 million to 400 million tons of cargo a year.
It also aims to develop seafood processing plants in a nearby free trade zone sprawled over 923 hectares (2,281 acres).
The route through Gwadar offers China its shortest path to the oil-rich Middle East, Africa, and most of the Western hemisphere, besides promising to open up remote, landlocked Xinjiang.
Last year, the Applied Economics Research Centre estimated the corridor would create 700,000 jobs in Pakistan and a Chinese newspaper recently put the number at more than 2 million.
Authorities have completed an expressway through Gwadar, which has a 350-km (218-mile) road network. A new international airport kicks off next year, to handle an influx of hundreds of Chinese traders and officials expected to live near the port.
The volume of Gwadar property searches surged 14-fold on Pakistan’s largest real estate database, Zameen.com, between 2014 and 2016, up from a prior rate of a few hundred a month.
“It’s like a gold rush,” said Chief Executive Zeeshan Ali Khan. “Anyone who is interested in real estate, be it an investor or a developer, is eyeing Gwadar.”
Regional fishermen have held strikes during the last two years, to protest against being displaced by the port.
To keep pace with the interest, urban officials are struggling to computerize land management and record-keeping. “We are trying to upgrade as fast as we can,” said Zakir Majeed, an official of the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA).
Port officials expect the population to hit 2 million over the next two decades, from about 185,000 now.
SOURCE: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
DATE POSTED: 23-FEBRUARY-2017
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